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What To Do With Glass in Architecture That is Twice as Durable as Steel

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Image Credit: © on1stsite | Flickr

What would you do within your design if you had access to glass in architecture that was stronger and more durable than steel? Would you span longer distances with it? Create more transparent and “warped” forms with it? Or might you even create new combinations of perceptual intrigue — like a transparent cantilever which extends outward further, or a transparent building base which makes all that is above it appear to “float”.

Such questions in architectural design are important to ask yourself as a way to get you thinking “outside of the box”. So often, after using the same materials in very similar ways over and over again, you as an architect may forget, over time, to push the boundaries of what certain materials (like glass) can do.

So I invite you to take the materials and other architectural elements that you work with, and turn them on their head. Ask yourself what you would do if light could be laser focused within your design. Ask yourself what would happen if certain elements like windows could become transient. Ask yourself what you would do with glass in architecture that was twice as durable and as strong as steel. The key is to ask yourself unlikely questions that at first may seem either impossible or improbable — but if you pause to think about them for a moment, you may be surprised by the spark of innovative and useful ideas they can generate.

While you may not be able to directly use all of your ideas and answers to these questions immediately, it will definitely get you thinking beyond your current limitations. And don’t forget that even if you can’t make glass replace structure today, there may be other ways to achieve similar effects. The key is to see the tools and materials you design with from new perspectives. This will keep your ideas fresh, and innovation always within reach.

Simply take a look at the following video to see how one idea (from Minority Report) is now being translated into designs today — this new Media Glass (which is a laser hologram on glass) is making its way into cars, electronic devices and our environments. Take a look:






what members are saying...
Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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